Apiece Apart founders Starr Hout and Laura Cramer design the kind of effortlessly cool, elevated basics that would fill our dream closet: beautifully crafted mix-and-match pieces that, true to the duo’s mission, can be packed in a single bag and look stylish anywhere in the world. So, naturally, these ladies are pretty cool themselves. (Exhibit A: They hatched the idea for Apiece Apart during a road trip to Marfa, Texas.) We talked to them about inspiration, Negronis and the power of BBQ potato chips.
What inspires you as designers?
Starr: Laura and I come from an interdisciplinary background, where we’re looking a lot at art, interior design and architecture. We could start back at the (1) Bauhaus, the idea of this modular lifestyle and one thing applying to many different uses. Then women like (2) Georgia O’Keefe, who decided that she should be a painter despite what other feminine roles she was supposed to play.
Laura: It’s interesting looking at our mood boards; we have so many interior shots, and I think it’s because we approach our clothing as something you’re going to live in for a long time.
Starr: Also, (3) Alice Waters. We’re looking to do with clothing what she does with food: the idea of quality over quantity, simplicity. We have thought about her a lot; we’re devotees of her cookbooks.
Laura: We could write the book The Art of Simple Clothes.
Do you have favorite pieces?
Starr: I wear the (4) matchstick pant every day. It’s basically a jean, but an elevated one that doesn’t have side pockets but has this straight, simple leg. It’s something that you can go day to night and season to season with.
Laura: For me right now—and it might just be the weather—but it seems like a bunch of the women we know and myself are all wearing our (5) fisherman’s sweater. It’s just this perfectly oversized but classic sweater, and I think it embodies what we do very well, which is just a basic with a twist.
How are you guys working on growing the brand?
Laura: I think from the beginning we had this very democratic mindset, where we were inspired by brands like (6) Eileen Fisher and (7) early Esprit, and it just so happens that what we were doing captured maybe a more rarified customer in the beginning. At this point, we’re expanding both the offering and the pricing structure so that we can be accessible to more women and different shapes of women, as well as different generations of women. We’re evolving our e-commerce experience to be able to deepen that engagement.
Starr: The other thing we’re thinking about on our website is talking to our women, being able to tell her our story and our perspective. We always hoped our clothes could be the framework for her to become who she wants to be and feel great at it. So this is our platform to do that.
Your site has deep backstories on your products—do you like that kind of information about the food you eat?
Laura: There’s absolutely a synchronicity between how we make clothes and the food we eat. We both buy organic produce and like to shop at local stores, but I cook very simple combos. My favorite meal is (8) rice and beans.
What do you typically eat while working?
Starr: I recently read (9) An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and I just highly, highly recommend it to anybody. I’m fresh off of that, so we buy all our produce and roast it on Sundays, and then, throughout the week, you have your roasted vegetables. That’s been really amazing, to have great, healthy vegetables during the day instead of just relying on whatever’s nearest.
Laura: And for those who might not be as disciplined. Our studio is right above (10) Maman, a darling and dynamite French bakery with wonderful chocolate-chip cookies and sweets. Another thing—I probably shouldn’t even tell this story, but my 4-year-old daughter loves (11) BBQ chips, and now I have new respect for them. The other day, it was kind of late, and I went to the corner store, and I was like, “Well, I’m going to go get a big bag of BBQ chips.” And then I didn’t have a shopping bag on me, so I just took the chips and, walking down the street with this big bag, I felt really awkward—I ended up wrapping it like a baby in my scarf because I felt so conspicuous.
How do you like to dress for a dinner out?
Laura: I’m really consistent because what I’m about to tell you, I’m wearing right now, and it’s probably what I wear most throughout the winter: my black fisherman oversize sweater and the black matchstick pant. And then I have a long (12) Apiece Apart topcoat that I put over it. If it’s a fancy event, I’ll put on heels and red lipstick, but more often it’d just be boots and a makeup-free face. That’s in the winter; in summer, it could be anything! Summer is so dreamy.
Where do you like to go?
Laura: I always default to (13) Il Buco Alimentari. It’s delicious food right around the corner. It always delights me.
Starr: (14) Frankie’s in Brooklyn—amazing basics, gorgeous things done elegantly. It’s best at sunset in the backyard.
Laura: I was just thinking about when we went to (15) Prune for Negronis.
Starr: That was so fun. We had just finished (16) Blood, Bones & Butter and took our better halves and, like tourists, just shamelessly ordered the Negroni. Knowing the story behind that whole world of hers that surrounded it was amazing.
Favorite hangover cure?
Laura: (17) Pozole. I lived in Austin for a long time, and there are several fabulous Mexican restaurants that make it, and now I make my own version. I’m rarely hungover, but it works for that and as a winter-day tonic.
What are your latest obsessions?
Laura: We love (18) A Détacher. That’s the footwear I’ll often wear. (19) JM Drygoods in Austin is a collection of mostly Mexican and Central American textiles and ceramics, and it’s just a beautiful space and really reasonably priced, which makes it even more fun.
Starr: I’m doing more online shopping than anything else, and I found this new site I love called (20) Trnk. I just got my husband a beautiful Fog Linen apron from there. They have affordably priced stuff but are also very aspirational, and they do a beautiful job telling backstories.
Laura: Flowers from (21) Saffron. It’s a Japanese-owned flower shop in Fort Greene, and I’m really obsessed. It’s super affordable and so exquisite—they’ve kind of changed how I approach putting together floral arrangements. It’s like a tic, every weekend I have to go, and my husband tries to stop me. I can’t help it.
Starr: I adore (22) Fog Linen, and in the same sort of Japanese way. I get really into systems and modularity—I’ll buy my son four pants of the same kind, his own little system, so I don’t have to think—and that’s what Fog Linen sets you up for in the home. It just all has this simple beauty.
Shout out to another creative woman?
Starr: I want to shout out (23) Dieppa Restrepo, who are doing with shoes kind of what we’re doing with clothing. They offer the same shapes over and over. We’ve gotten the loafers one season in one color and then the next in another, and it becomes part of your essentials. I have a black ankle boot that I just wear all the time, and I’m glad to know I can get it again. That’s unique in shoe land.
Laura: And we have to shout out Jean Adamson at (24) Vinegar Hill House . She’s amazing. And Vinegar Hill House just gets better and better.
Last question: What’s your favorite food to eat while wearing stretchy pants?
Laura: Lots of (25) popcorn. That’s maybe my favorite food ever. My husband knows to make a big batch and probably not to share it with me.
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